Mark and I didn't discuss having children much when we were dating. It rarely came up, and when it did, we agreed to wait A LONG time before trying to have children. We were so young when we got married (22 and 23), we moved to a new city (New Orleans), started new careers, joined a new church, etc. It was too much to adjust to right away, and kids did not fit into the mix. Two years after our wedding Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. An entirely new set of circumstances arose from post Katrina aftermath. Our focus was on rebuilding our church and our city, supporting our somewhat traumatized youth group, and rebuilding relationships. there just hasn't been a moment until recently to think about expanding our family.
Meanwhile, many of my friends began having babies and announcing the start of a new phase of life. I questioned myself during this time and asked God to reveal to me why I did not have a desire at the time to have biological children. During my prayer time, I felt a peace about not having this desire, but when I was with my pregnant friends, I thought that maybe something was wrong with me! Sometime about two years ago, I felt a strong urge to adopt children during a women's conference. I can't remember exactly what it was...in fact, I don't think it was anything prompted by man that impressed my heart to adopt. The focus of the conference was not on adoption, and I really can't boil it down to any one thing that influenced my heart's desire to adopt that day. The only way to explain the desire I had was by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I came home from the conference and excitedly announced to Mark that I felt called to adopt! I just knew that he was going to be thrilled with the word I felt I'd heard from God. Afterall, he prays daily and reads the word, so of course he would understand my desire to adopt! Much to my surprise and disappointment, Mark was taken aback by my desire to adopt and unsure about the possibility. I felt a quiet whisper tell me to not say another word about it and simply pray for him. Mark is a godly man, and I knew I could trust God to bring Mark to the same conclusion that I had come to if it was right for us to adopt.
A year later, something inside me urged me to bring up adoption again. I was shocked to hear Mark say, "This is definitely a part of our family plan. There is no doubt we will adopt; it's just a matter of when and how we will adopt." God had done his miraculous work in Mark's heart and I had done nothing but pray! It's amazing what God can do when we let him! Now Mark is so passionate about adoption that it can only be explained by God's work in his heart. It is so good to know that we don't have to change people and force them to see things our way...God is in the business of changing hearts and he does it perfectly!
Once Mark and I decided to adopt, there was a small (Mark would say "huge") obstacle in our way...FINANCING ADOPTION. To adopt a child internationally, one could expect to pay between $20K and $50K depending on the country. This is not the kind of money that we have lying around, obviously. We began to pray about God providing the money if we were supposed to adopt. We know that all things belong to God, and if He wanted us to bring home a baby from another country, He was going to have to provide a way. About two months into praying about this, God gave us several monetary blessings that are ONCE IN A LIFETIME kind of situations: a performance bonus, an increase in salaries, a little here, a little there. Before long, we had exactly what we needed to move forward with the initial stages of adoption! The best news was the government re-approved and increased a tax refund to adoptive families from $12K to $13K! This sealed the deal. God had granted us favor and unfathomable monetary blessings that can only be explained by His faithfulness to us.
In March, Mark and I applied with America World Adoption Agency to become adoptive parents to an Ethiopian child. We were drawn to Ethiopia because of the vast need there. There are 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia due to Malaria, AIDS, and poverty. Most of these orphans live in institutions or on the streets. They are malnourished, neglected, and too much for the government to care for on its own. This crisis causes many children to live their lives alone, begging for food, shelter, and other basic needs.
We requested a 0-6 month old baby boy (s). We could end up with two siblings, cousins, or just one boy depending on the availability when we receive our referral.
We were accepted into AWAA's program at the beginning of April and began initial paperwork and Home Study meetings. We received the official Dossier documents that will go to Ethiopia on Thursday, April 29th and announced our adoption Monday, May 3rd.
Mark and I are currently collecting paperwork, such as original birth certificates, marriage certificates, background checks, immigration clearance, passport photos, etc. This can be a slow process and it sometimes requires us to do additional paperwork depending on our situation. So you can be praying that our paperwork will be acceptable and completed in a timely manner (hopefully early June).